Northeast – Kharkiv Area of Operations.
- Multiple reports indicate a long RFAF convoy of equipment en-route to Izyum from Russia. Izyum is reported to be a new logistics hub for the axis.
- South of Izyum, two BTGs probed Ukrainian defences, but they were forced to retreat near Dovhenke and Sulyhivka.
- RFAF units previously withdrawn from Kyiv and Chernihiv Areas of Operation (AOs) are likely in Belgorod and Voronezh Oblasts in Russia, being re-fitted prior to re-joining the fight. Ukrainian Defence Intelligence report that morale is low among the Russian units, and they are not receiving the ‘special pay’ they were promised for partaking in the ‘Special Military Operation’ in Ukraine.
- Kharkiv continues to receive indirect fire on a daily basis. Russia is reportedly using rocket-artillery against residential areas as well as military targets in order to fix Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) and prevent reinforcement along the Donbas front.
- Unknown saboteurs have reportedly destroyed a railway line in Schebekyno district, Belgorod Oblast, Russia. Russia has stated an investigation into the incident is ongoing.
Post showing cluster munition use in Kharkiv 10 Apr 22 Source: @Liveuamap
Post geolocating reportedly sabotaged rail line in Belgorod, Russia. Source: @OAlexanderDK
East – Donbas Area of Operations (assessed Russian Federation Armed Forces (RFAF) Main Effort).
- In Luhansk, after failing again to break into Sievierodonetsk, RFAF elements are reportedly focussed on Popasna and Rubizhne.
- Unconfirmed reporting suggests that Chechen troops are digging in defensive positions near Rubizhne, however it is unclear whether this is due to an operational pause or from previous experience of UAF indirect fire.
- Shelling is ongoing in Avdiivka, however there have been no further ground assaults reported at this time.
Post showing that on 10 Apr 22 the UAF reportedly struck a Russian ammunition depot in the Donbass, destroying an unknown but likely significant amount of ammunition and equipment. Source: @CanadianUkrain1
South – Kherson and Black Sea Coast Area of Operations.
- UAF resistance in Mariupol continues despite progress from RFAF. There have been multiple reports of UAF Marines surrendering to the Russians after running out of ammunition and food during the siege. The UAF have not commented on the surrender, but have announced that a “risky operation” was conducted by the 36
- Unconfirmed (pro-Russia) reporting highlights rumours of RFAF intent to flood the subterranean system under the Azovstal factory with sea or river water via above-ground ventilation access areas. This would allow for the destruction of the defenders without further damaging the plant/industrial areas, and with minimal loss of RFAF lives and equipment.
- Russian forces are reportedly continuing defensive works around Kherson in order to repel UAF counter-attacks from the Mykolaiv direction.
Post showing DPR Spokesman XXX stating that “chemical troops” should be used to dislodge defenders in Mariupol. Source: @KevinRothrock
Post reporting the surrender of approximately 1000 UAF Marines in Mariupol Source: @AZmilitary1 (Note: Pro-Russian User)
- On 11 Apr 22, Members of the Azov Regiment in Mariupol reported (via Twitter) that the RFAF had conducted a “chemical poisoning” against military and civilian personnel in Mariupol. They claimed an unidentified substance was delivered by an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) in the vicinity of the Azovstal metallurgical factory, and caused immediate respiratory issues for three people, including a civilian. Russia has denied the claims, and they have not been confirmed or verified by any third party.
- Subsequently, on 13 Apr 22 Pro-Russian Twitter user @ILRUSSO1 reposted a news interview in Russian where a spokesperson for the RFAF claims to have found UAVs with improvised liquid aerosol devices attached. The UAVs were reportedly captured in the Donbass (see below for Twitter post).
Post regarding the capture of UAVs adapted to spray liquids. Source: @ILRUSSO1 (Note: Pro-Russian User)
- In spite of (or possibly due to) Russian threats, Sweden and Finland are now more likely to join NATO than ever before. On 8 Apr 22, Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin stated that very serious discussions were underway, and the matter was hoped to be resolved before the 25 Jun 22 summer holiday. Sweden now has the greatest popular support for NATO membership ever seen, with 68% of the population reportedly in favour of membership – up from <50% in 2019. Shortly after the Finnish announcement of the discussion on joining NATO, a cyber-attack was conducted against the Finnish Ministries of Defence and Interior and their websites. Earlier, Finland's Ministry of Defence reported an airspace violation by a Russian IL-96-300 aircraft for three minutes off the country's southern coast. On 13 Apr 22, an un-verified twitter user posted a video reported to show the movement of RFAF equipment near Vyborg, Leningrad Oblast, towards the Finno-Russian border. The equipment reportedly included BASTION Coastal Defence Cruise Missiles.
Unverified Post showing probable BASTION CDCMs moving, reportedly near Vyborg. Source: @sentdefender
- It is likely that RFAF units withdrawn from the Northern axes will be hastily refitted in Russia before being committed to axis to the East and South. It is likely that these battle-fatigued units which have faced a lengthy deployment will not be as efficient or effective as they could be, if given the time.
- RFAF elements redeploying from Belarus will likely have low combat effectiveness due to equipment shortages/damages and low morale following their withdrawal from the Kyiv oblast. If Russia continues to commit units piecemeal against the UAF along the LoC, they are unlikely to break through long-established defences. The UAF are almost certainly seeking to reinforce the line with units formerly deployed around Sumy, Chernihiv and Kyiv.
- If Russia can continue to threaten Kyiv with strikes, this would likely prevent the UAF from redeploying air defence assets to the East, giving the Russian Air Force (VKS) more freedom of action to support offensive activity in the East. Russia is also likely to use aircraft and precision-guided munitions to target Ukrainian transport hubs, resupply areas, air defence and concentrations of soldiers. This target list would support ongoing/renewed offensive activity near the LoC.
- At the time of this report, Russia still appears to be committing Battalion Tactical Groups (BTGs) in ones and twos rather than massing combat power, and therefore the additional units that have appeared on the Donbass front have not made any significant territorial gains. It is likely that an avenue of approach through Izyum to the South/Southwest towards Barvinkove is going to receive reinforcements to sever the ground lines of communication of the UAF in Kramatorsk and Slovyansk.
- Shelling in Kharkiv is highly likely intended to fix UAF defenders and prevent forces redeploying south to reinforce the former Line of Contact (LoC) near Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk. The damage to a railway line in Belgorod is likely the work of Ukrainian Special Operations Forces given the proximity to the Ukrainian border and probable lack of indigenous resistance/sabotage groups in Russia. Previous reporting from 1 Apr 22 described UAF MI-24 attack helicopters conducting an aviation raid against a fuel depot in Belgorod. This reporting was never confirmed, and there was some speculation this was a false-flag attack by Russia to galvanise public support, however Belgorod is likely to be one of the logistic support areas most vulnerable to cross-border disruption.
- The UAF defence of Mariupol has extended well beyond what many analysts predicted, however it is likely that it is beginning to fail. Reporting indicates that the RFAF have bisected the city, and they are now likely to destroy remaining UAF fighters in isolated pockets. The difficulty in dislodging defenders from subterranean facilities is well-known and complex – and may lead the RFAF to use unorthodox or brutal methods to root out defenders such as flooding or use of unconventional weapons.
- It is a realistic possibility that neither Russia nor Ukraine have sufficient combat power available at this time to cause major territorial changes in Kherson or Mykolaiv Oblasts.
- There is no confirmed use of Chemical Weapons (CW) by either side in the conflict at this time. The Azovstal factory is an industrial site, and it is a realistic possibility that indiscriminate firing may have ruptured containers for Toxic Industrial Chemicals or otherwise caused a reaction which led to the reported symptoms. Although improvised devices are a possibility (likely to provide deniability), the RFAF has many proven conventional means of delivering chemical munitions should they choose to do so – predominantly by indirect fire. Additionally, in Russian Military nomenclature, ‘Chemical’ troops/units tend to refer to decontamination units or troops who use flame weapons/thermobarics such as the TOS-1A and the RPO-Shmel. It is worth noting however, that if Russia wanted to use CW to displace defenders, then Mariupol would be the most likely location; It is isolated so samples/reports can’t get out easily, it is likely to be occupied in the short term (allowing for removal/destruction of evidence), it is the reported ‘centre of Nazism in Ukraine’ and home of Azov Regiment, and the terrain makes a conventional victory very costly and time consuming. Western ‘red lines’ vis-à-vis CW use are clear, and it is unknown whether President Putin would be willing to risk such severe escalation to take Mariupol, something that is highly likely to happen anyway.
It is a realistic possibility that there will be no significant territorial changes in the Donbas within the next 5-7 days. Kharkiv is highly likely to receive further strikes and bombardment, although a renewed ground assault onto the city is assessed as unlikely in the short term. It is a realistic possibility that Russia will re-commit forces from the Northern axis into the Luhansk Oblast near Izyum which would provide the mass needed for an advance towards either Barvinkove or Kramatorsk. It is a realistic possibility the renewed offensive will be supported by additional airstrikes by the VKS to fix and suppress the Ukrainians and enable a breakthrough by the RFAF. It is possible that Russia will wait for Mariupol to be pacified prior to launching additional units to the front on Donbas, in order to free up supporting artillery units and aircraft.
It is likely that the remaining formed units in Mariupol will be destroyed or captured within the next week. The city has been bisected and resupply for defenders is reportedly impossible. It is unlikely however that Russia will seek to deploy additional forces to the front in Mariupol at this time.
Russian actions in Ukraine have likely had the opposite effect to the one intended by President Putin; and have driven more neutral countries to consider NATO membership in the short term. In spite of threats of ‘military technical retaliation’ by Russia, it is likely that Finland and Sweden will apply for NATO membership in the next six months. If Finland and Sweden are accepted into NATO, this would almost double the length of the Russian border that directly meets NATO member states. Russia is unlikely to have the conventional forces available to open a second European front – particularly given the losses suffered in Ukraine, however a number of hybrid options are available including information operations, cyber-attacks, jamming, subversion and infiltration by agents. Preparatory activity for this contingency has likely been underway by Russia for some time. It is currently assessed that Russia is unlikely to kinetically attack any Scandinavian country in the short term.